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Atari 2600: Pitfall




Pitfall! is a video game released by Activision for the Atari 2600 in 1982. It is the second best-selling game made for the Atari 2600 (after Pac-Man), with over 4 million copies sold.

The player must maneuver a character (Pitfall Harry) through a maze-like jungle in an attempt to recover 32 treasures in a 20-minute time period. Along the way, he must negotiate numerous hazards, including pits, quicksand, rolling logs, fire, rattlesnakes, scorpions, and crocodiles. Harry may jump over or otherwise avoid these obstacles by climbing, running, or swinging on vines. Treasure includes gold and silver bars, diamond rings, and bags of money. Under the jungle there is a tunnel which Harry can access through ladders found at various points. Travelling though the tunnel moves forward three screens at a time, which is necessary in order to collect all the treasures within the time limit. However, the tunnels are filled with dead-ends blocked by brick walls, forcing the player to return to the surface at one of the ladders, and try to find a way around again, thus wasting time. The tunnels also contain scorpions, which can harm Harry.

Pitfall! was created by David Crane, a programmer who worked for Activision in the early 1980s. In a November 2003 interview with Edge he described how in 1979 he had developed the technology to display a realistic running man and in 1982 was searching for a suitable game in which to use it:

"I sat down with a blank sheet of paper and drew a stick figure in the center. I said, "Okay, I have a little running man and let's put him on a path [two more lines drawn on the paper]. Where is the path? Let's put it in a jungle [draw some trees]. Why is he running [draw treasures to collect, enemies to avoid, etc.]?" And Pitfall! was born. This entire process took about ten minutes. About 1,000 hours of programming later, the game was complete."

The game's technical achievements included non-flickering, multicolored, animated sprites on a system with notoriously primitive graphics hardware. Innovative techniques were used to keep the code space within the 4k limit, including a polynomial counter to create 256 screens within 50 bytes of code. The vines were drawn as a stretched "ball".


Identifier atari_2600_pitfall_1983_cce_c-813
Mediatype software
Scanner Internet Archive Python library 0.4.8
Publicdate 2013-12-25 11:22:16
Addeddate 2013-12-25 11:22:16
Emulator a2600
Emulator a2600
Emulator_ext bin
Emulator_ext bin
Controller joystick


Reviews

Reviewer: SourJim42 - - January 24, 2014
Subject: One of the first real platformers
One of the biggest games for the 2600. Difficult to complete, even with the map.

20 minute time limit.

Sadly, the game is the same every time you play it. Once you get good at it, the challenge is gone. On to Pitfall II.
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